"petition or complaint signed in a circle to disguise the order in which names were affixed and prevent ringleaders from being identified," 1730, originally in reference to sailors and frequently identified as a nautical term. As a kind of tournament in which each player plays the others, it is recorded from 1895.
A scheduling algorithm in which processes are activated in a fixed cyclic order. Those which cannot proceed because they are waiting for some event (e.g. termination of a child process or an input/output operation) simply return control to the scheduler. The virtue of round-robin scheduling is its simplicity - only the processes themselves need to know what they are waiting for or how to tell if it has happened. However, if a process goes back to sleep just before the event for which it is waiting occurs then the event will not get handled until all the other processes have been activated.
Compare priority scheduling.